Wednesday, 16 April 2008
Coast 2 Cove
Cove 1-0 Banstead Athletic
Tuesday 15th April 2008
Combined Counties League Premier Division
As mentioned in the previous post I now work nights having Monday and Tuesday off. This has given me another chance to have a day out with Mrs Rambler (who generally has Tuesday's off from work as well) and also the bonus of taking in a game. Looking at the fixtures in Sunday's non league paper I decided that we should head to the coast, and as the geographically aware people among you will know Leicester is in the middle of the country and at least 80 miles from any seaside town. Skegness is the nearest at 84.4 miles using MS Autoroute's shortest option. Having been Skeggy many times and also no football being played in the vicinity I originally looked at Cromer on the north Norfolk coast - a mere 120 miles away and also had the advantage of somewhere that neither of us had been before. That was sorted until I saw the weather report which in a nutshell said that anywhere south the M4 would have no rain. Bingo we'll head down south. Had another look at the Non League Paper and saw that both the Wessex and Combined Counties league had fixtures being played. Didn't matter who and did not plan to decide until Tuesday afternoon. So we decided on visiting Bognor Regis (a mere 177 miles away using the sat nav route) and left about 8.30am. The journey took us down the M1 towards the M25 which we got caught in the traffic problems caused by the road works south of Luton Airport which delayed us by about 20 minutes. We were then onto the M25 which was generally trouble free, only the volume of traffic slowing us down slightly as we headed towards the A3 exit. Again no problems apart from more road works, this time at Hindhead half way between Guildford and Petersfield. Passing through Hindhead we noticed a pub with an unusual name - the Devil's Punchbowl - mental note made. Eventually we arrived at Bognor at 12.40pm (- a mere four hours since we left off, though we did stop for breakfast and refuelling on the M1 for half an hour) and parked up 350 yards from the seafront. I found Bognor to be smaller than I had envisaged but pleasant enough all the same. The pier is at one end of the promenade and the Butlins resort the other. With the season not yet in full swing and also being a weekday the place was fairly quiet and as forecast the weather was lovely - not a cloud in the sky. First port of call was the have some chips and eat them on the beach, you have to really! Four hours passed and we decided to call it a day and made our way back to the carpark. After a look at the map and another at the fixtures I decided that we should head back the way we came and stop off for a drink at the previously mentioned Devil's Punchbowl. A pint of Kronenburg was what the doctor ordered and went down very easily. From here the decision was made to head to Farnborough and more specifically Cove Football Club - only 35 minutes from our rest stop and within two hours drive of home.
Cove play on Squirrel Lane with the ground being at the bottom end of a narrow lane. There is parking both inside the club gates and in front of the clubhouse. We chose the latter due to not realising the about the former until going into the ground. We were charged £6 each which included a programme and also managed to get hold of a badge for £2. The clubhouse has recently been refurbished and houses a pool table and darts board. Inside the ground all the accommodation is on the far side with a (covered) seated stand being straddled by two sections of (covered) standing. More than enough for the 30 people (head count) in attendance. Mention must be made to the person who was on the gate - he made us feel very welcome and went out of his way to look for the badges at half time. I didn't get his name but it is people like him that give non league football the reputation it deserves.
To be fair to Cove the pitch was not in the best condition but considering the unpredictable nature of the weather we have had over the past few months it is a credit that clubs like themselves keep them playable all season long. At the start of play Cove were occupying fifth place, though some 35 points behind leaders Merstham while Banstead were in 18th place in the 22 team division. The home side started off brighter and playing the better football but the first chance of note came on the half hour when Cove's no. 11 blasted the ball over the bar from 8 yards or so. The visiting keeper was the busier and on 38 minutes got down well to save from the home no. 10. Two minutes later the home side deservedly took the lead when the no. 10 scored following up from a good save by the Banstead keeper from the no. 11.
The second half started in a similar vain to the first with Cove playing the better football and looking more likely to score. Their first clear cut chance of the half was on the hour mark when their no. 5 had a free header from 10 yards but put it over the goal. Five minutes later another chance for Cove, this time the no. 9 was put through from the half way line, managed to hold of the advancing defender and slid his shot past the keeper only for the ball to hit the upright. The visiting keeper was keeping his side in the game as with ten minutes left made another good save to deny the no. 11 again.
Final score: 1-0
A deserved win by Cove who on another day would have won by three or four goals. To be fair to Banstead they never gave up but didn't create enough to worry the home side. An enjoyable day out on the coast with a visit to a club that is a credit to this level. The journey home took around two hours and we were back in Leicester at around midnight.